by G. Brown
When Disney announced that it was doing a live-action reboot of its beloved children’s film “The Little Mermaid” millions of fans cheered. When Disney announced it was casting a Black actress in the lead role of Ariel-the cheering turned to hatemongering and protest cries of #NotMyAriel.
Teen actress Halle Bailey landed the prime role for the forthcoming remake of a young rebellious mermaid who loves singing but is willing to risk silencing that voice forever in a bid to win at love.
The Atlanta born actress has the acting chops for this role thanks to appearances in film’s like last year’s “A Wrinkle in Time” and 2006’s “Last Holiday”. But we all know Bailey’s ability isn’t at the center of these protests.
Some argue “The Little Mermaid” was originally based on a fairytale written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen thus Ariel is Danish and therefore can’t be Black. Never met any Danes, but Black people can be Danish one would imagine Even if they can’t, it doesn’t matter because Ariel is fictitious and can be whatever the film’s creator (in this case Disney) decides.
Some have also argued that Black people aren’t born with red hair like the cartoon Ariel from 30 years ago. We won’t dignify that stupidity with a comment. Instead, we’ll let some fanart say it for us…
Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” is another beloved children’s classic. It’s not just the heartwarming story of a young girl who is an outsider overcoming the odds and winning at the end that endears us to this tale. It’s the entire experience…our comfort…our memories that encase the movie. It’s the memory of childhood and going to experience the movie with our family friends or as new parents taking out children. It’s that comfort zone that we’ve kept hidden away for years. Now, for some people, Disney is coming to rewrite those memories. To tamper with that comfort of the narrative they grew to love.
“The Little Mermaid” is a story about good defeating evil, overcoming obstacles, combatting stereotypes, learning acceptance–all doctrines we want to instill in children. So you see the hypocrisy of adults protesting a remake based on the decision to cast a Black actress in a role that has nothing to do with race.
It is mindboggling that people muster enough imagination to believe in mermaids and love, but lack enough love for all color of peoples to believe that a Black actress can be a mermaid.
As for protests and threats of boycotting the movie, pretty sure Disney won’t care. Disney didn’t care when people griped about Will Smith as the Genie in Aladdin—and look at what a blockbuster that turned out to be.
All those people protesting not my Ariel…they are absolutely right. She’s not your Ariel. Ariel belongs to those with the purity of heart who know how to glean the moral of the story without letting hatred, bigotry, and racism blind them from it. Those people are in the words of “The Little Mermaid’s” underwater villain Ursula nothing but poor, unfortunate souls.